On 1 February $400 million in funding cuts came into effect in the early childhood sector. These hit Dunedin harder than any other city.
Data released yesterday shows an 11.7% rise in (Early Childhood Education) ECE fees across the country. This figure is likely to be much higher in Dunedin. Dunedin is the city in New Zealand with the largest proportion of children enrolled in centres employing between 80 and 100% tertiary-qualified teaching staff. It is these high-quality ECE centres that are hit the hardest.
Numbers: in Dunedin 2900 children enrolled in high quality ECE were affected by February’s cuts.
We must invest in our children, if we want a prosperous and healthy society. Dunedin’s education providers know this. That is why they have led the charge with qualified staff. But it is also why these cuts will affect Dunedin the most.
The February cuts affected 54 centres across Otago. Each lost an average of $48,500 funding per annum. Fees were raised by between $5 and $40 per child per week. At the same time, costs to run the centres have gone up.
For some people, the cuts imposed by the Government will be too much. The incentive to stay in work has gone. Many end up drawing a benefit, and lose the opportunity to have their children engage with trained teachers for four hours each day.
In overwhelming numbers, Otago’s early childhood centres have committed to a high-quality model. And, until February they were able to provide 20 hours of teaching with qualified teachers to all 3 and 4 year old children – for free.
Labour believes every child deserves the best possible start in life. We have pledged to reverse this Government’s expensive mistake. Only Labour will return 20-hours-free quality ECE.